1. Choose Google-friendly keywords
As noted, YouTube is totally killing it when it comes to SEO.
And while you shouldn’t totally create content for search engines versus people, you should promote your YouTube channel with SEO in mind.
Specifically, product reviews, how-to’s and long-form (10+ minutes) videos covering keyword-specific topics tend to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs). If you’re strapped for content ideas or want to capitalize on a trending buzzword in your industry, consider how you can do so through your YouTube channel marketing.
2. Use concise, descriptive titles
The title is the first thing users see when they find your content. And if it isn’t punchy, it might be the last.
Here are some basic tips for writing strong YouTube titles:
- Keep it short and sweet. The most popular YouTube videos tend to have the shortest titles. Stick to 60 characters or less or some of your title may get cut off when displayed.
- Include your keyword(s) in the first half of the title to avoid losing valuable information. Most online readers focus on the beginning of the sentence and skip the rest.
- Engaging doesn’t mean clickbait. The best headlines offer an obvious benefit or create an emotional reaction. Clickbait is tempting, but can damage your channel’s reputation in the long term.
3. Create custom thumbnails
One of the simplest yet effective tactics to promote your YouTube channel is creating custom thumbnails.
Think of your title and thumbnail as a sort of one-two punch to grab a viewer’s attention.
By default, YouTube snags a screenshot from any given video and uses it for the thumbnail. Unfortunately, sometimes the image it grabs will be a blurry shot of you adjusting the camera or a transition.
Not a good look, right?
Creating thumbnails yourself not only makes your videos look more appealing at a glance but also signals a certain sense of professionalism.
Thumbnails don’t have to be rocket science, either. You can even create a template with a particular font and style to make it more consistent and on-brand. This is made especially easy with the help of image creation tools such as Canva.
4. Fill out your profile
Many YouTubers skip the profile section and get straight to content creation. But a compelling profile is one of the easiest ways to promote your YouTube channel—and boost your SEO.
Here are some best practices for creating an effective YouTube profile:
Be consistent. Use a similar colour palette, writing style, and layout as you do on your website and other social channels.
Optimize your YouTube channel description. This is a great place to add keywords. YouTube penalizes “tag stuffing,” but including a couple of keywords can go a long way.
Keep viewers coming back for more. When and how often will you post new content? Let fans know your schedule—then make sure you stick to it.
Include contact info. You never know who might want to reach you. Make it easy for them and you could land some great partnerships.
5. Optimize your descriptions
We have a complete guide to writing effective YouTube descriptions, which has tips for both individual video descriptions and channels. Here are a few of the key takeaways:
- Front-load your keywords in the description and title
- Stick to the 5000-characters limit
- Create a “contents page” with timestamps that help viewers find what they’re looking for Add links to relevant playlists (more on this later)
- Include a few relevant hashtags. Be sure to follow YouTube’s hash tagging rules before you post
- You can also mention keywords in the video itself. But just like with text, people lose attention quickly. Use a couple of keywords during a brief intro for best results.
6. Don’t forget about metadata
YouTube’s metadata guidelines emphasize two things when it comes to using keywords:
Choose quality over quantity.
These rules also apply to features like tags and categories. Only include tags in the “tags section” of your upload—not the video description. Add one or two categories to help YouTube understand who to recommend your video to.
7. Offer real value
This may seem obvious, but it’s still worth saying.
Great content is the best way to keep viewers engaged—and the most effective way to rank well in search. That’s because YouTube’s ranking system prioritizes the viewer’s experience.
Before you publish any video, ask yourself:
- What problem does this video solve?
- Is it entertaining?
- Will it improve viewers lives in any way?
8. Create high-quality videos
Poor video quality can undermine even the best content. So make sure your content looks professional before you post it. Use a decent camera, do a sound check before recording, and learn some basic editing skills.
Of course, not everyone is a natural filmmaker. Brush up on these best practices for social videos if you’re a little rusty.
9. Interact with your fans
Real engagement doesn’t end at content creation. The most successful You Tubers constantly monitor and interact with their fans.
Respond to viewers’ comments—even the negative ones—and “heart” your favorites. Post response videos. Use analytics to identify your top fans and show them some extra love.
Your viewers—and your subscriber count—will thank you for it.
10. Try a Q&A
Audience Q&As are one of the most effective ways to build community. Ask your subscribers to send you questions by comment, email, or tweet. Then create a video to address them.
By showing your fans that they matter, you’ll boost watch time, view counts, and engagement. Plus, Q&A
11. Run contests
Contests are another great way to get your audience involved. With a single video, you can collect viewer data, encourage likes or comments, and gain subscribers.
We have a whole blog post about making the most of YouTube contests. But some quick takeaways include:
a) Start with a clear goal in mind
b) Respect YouTube’s contest rules and restrictions
c) Choose a prize your viewers will actually enjoy
d) Maximize your reach with other social channels
12. Be active in the community
Although you might not think of YouTube as a social network per se, the platform does represent a thriving community where users are engaging via content via profiles, “likes” and comments.
Sounds pretty “social” if you ask us.
As noted earlier, any sort of interaction with your viewers is seen as a positive signal to YouTube. If nothing else, engaging with your subscribers can help you foster a stronger connection with your audience. “Liking” comments only takes a few seconds, as does pinning a top comment as a sort of personal note to your subscribers.
13. Work with brands
Brand partnerships are another way to broaden your reach. They can also help you come up with new content when you’re stuck for ideas.
But there’s one golden rule to any successful partnership: Be authentic.
Identify brands that reflect your personality and your audience’s needs. Does it make sense to partner with them? Will it provide value to your viewers?
If not, keep looking. Inauthentic videos can do more damage than good.
14. Respect the community guidelines
YouTube is cracking down hard on inappropriate content due to a rising number of underage users.
Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your little brother to see. Otherwise, your video will get flagged and removed from YouTube’s recommendation feature. If you’re ever unsure, double-check the community guidelines first.
15. Create a series
Consistency pays off. Post videos on a regular schedule to keep viewers coming back to your channel again and again.
Choose a catchy, keyword-friendly name for your series for best results. Create a custom thumbnail to give the each video in the series a similar look and feel.
16. Add a call-to-action
Include an awesome CTA in your video to make the most of your hard-earned audience.
Maybe you want to push your viewers to like or share your video. Maybe you want them to click through to your website. Whatever the “ask,” the best CTAs are always clear, compelling, and urgent.
YouTube just released a new call-to-action extension for in-stream ads. But there are also lots of free ways to add CTAs to videos:
Direct Host-Mentions: Look into the camera and verbally tell viewers what you want them to do.
Video Descriptions: Ask viewers to comment, share, or like your video in the description itself.
End Cards / Screens: Add a customizable screenshots to the beginning, middle, or end of the video. These powerful visual cues add punch to your CTA.
17. Cross-promote your channel
Reach out to audiences outside of YouTube to build community around your channel. Find ways to incorporate videos into your blog, email newsletter, and other social media accounts.
There are lots of creative ways to cross promote that don’t involve posting the same message twice
- Social media
- Email marketing
18. Promote your channel, not just your videos
You know how domain authority affects page authority? The same is true for videos.
Take advantage by promoting your channel as a whole, as well as your individual videos. Push for subscribers and link to your account wherever you can. This will help your videos rank higher in YouTube and Google searches.
19. Take advantage of the holidays
Win some extra eyeballs by anticipating what people are looking for. Use holidays, popular movies, and trends as opportunities to post relevant content. You’d be surprised how well this strategy can work!
20. Balance trending content with evergreen videos
Upload a few timeless videos that your subscribers will return to again and again. Popular evergreen content includes how-to guides, tools and resources lists, stat collections, tip roundups, and more.
This kind of evergreen content can rank well for years, increasing traffic and boosting SEO.
21. Find out what works (and do more of it)
YouTube’s analytics are powerful. Use them wisely!
Take a deep dive into your data to understand your audience on a deeper level. How old are they? What languages do they speak? Which video styles do they prefer? Use this information to create content that truly captures their interests.
22. Write engaging, must-see titles
YouTube marketing is all about presentation.
Titles are make-or-break when it comes to your video’s performance. Ask yourself: are you presenting your content as “must-see” or “meh?”
The key to crafting killer titles is grabbing your audience’s attention without resorting to clickbait headlines. People crave content that’s entertaining, and they likewise want to know what your video is about from the word “go.”
For example, you can take a page out of the playbooks of YouTube giants like Buzz Feed and What Culture. Such videos often rely on listicles, question-based titles or hyperbole (“insane,” “…of all time”) to rack up the views.
23. Optimize your videos for visibility
Listen: YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world in and of itself. Just like people search for products and need problems solved via Google, the same rings true on YouTube.
Think of your YouTube videos like any other piece of content that needs to be optimized in terms of keywords, tags and so on.
In order to increase your chances of showing up, you’ll want to follow some of the best practices for YouTube SEO:
24. Figure out what your audience wants
With any type of content you produce, you want to make sure it’s aligned with what your audience wants. Whether you’re writing a blog post or creating a video, start by getting to know your audience and what type of content they want to see from you.
If you’re just starting to promote your YouTube channel, take a look at your competitors or other video creators in your industry. Look at which of their videos get the most views and engagement. This will give you an idea of what topics your audience wants to learn about and what style of videos they prefer.25.
25. Brand Your YouTube Channel
Branding your YouTube channel is the next thing you should do to make it visually attractive and encourage visitors to take you seriously. It helps you increase brand awareness and spend more time with your audience.
26. Cross-promote your videos on YouTube
Chances are you’re covering similar topics on YouTube that overlap with each other.
To squeeze more out of your older content, make a point to cross-promote your videos when it makes sense.
For example, you can drop links in the description of a video and encourage viewers to check them out as a sort of call-to-action. Although some might be disappointed by the recent removal of YouTube’s annotation system, linking in your description encourages viewers to watch your videos all the way through without clicking away.
27. Work with Other You Tubers
Сollaborative videos have become popular among content creators. It’s a good way to find a new audience and increase your subscriber base. It’s also a win/win situation for you, your partner and your target audience.
Collaborating with other influences is a great social proof move for your audience. Working with other well-known channels makes you look good by association.
28. Run a contest or giveaway
If there’s one thing YouTube users love, it’s a giveaway. Host a YouTube contest or giveaway to encourage people to subscribe to your channel and engage.
To keep your contests simple, have people like your video, leave a comment and subscribe to your channel to enter.
Follow some of our best practices for running any social media contest:
- Make sure you’re following YouTube’s policies.
- Give away a gift that’s related to your brand: you want to attract more than just freebie-seekers.
- Get creative by incorporating user-generated content and other non-traditional entry requirement
29. Encourage viewers to follow your series
A smart way to promote your YouTube channel is by creating a specific video series that covers a recurring theme or topic.
Popular foodie channel Bon Appétit actually has a variety of different series that make up their YouTube presence, including their ongoing “From the Test Kitchen” videos.
30. Embed your YouTube videos
Some of the best places to promote your YouTube channel are beyond YouTube itself.
Case in point, video content is proven to improve conversion rates and lower bounce rate on-site. If you want visitors to stick around a product page or blog post longer, embed a video (like we did below).
31. Create playlists to organize your YouTube content
The more videos you create, the more difficult it becomes for people to navigate through your channel.
That’s why playlists are so important. Not only do playlists allow you to group your videos into categories to organize your channel, but also appeal to your viewers’ desire to binge.
32. Limit Videos to Under 5 Minutes
If you want to get the most out of your videos, focus on their total watch time. Based on the Comscore survey, the duration of the majority of the YouTube videos is about 5 minutes.
If you create long videos by just repeating yourself, it won’t help. People need a good reason to be interested in your video. You can experiment with video length to figure out what works best for maximum engagement.
Here are a few tips you should follow:
- Create high-quality content in each video
- Optimize your videos to be under 5 minutes
- Make them interesting, informative and short
33. Give live streaming a try
Live video is one of the biggest social media trends and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
With apps like Facebook, Periscope and Instagram making it easier than ever to stream live video, more and more brands are getting on board.
YouTube has been offering live videos for years but has only recently started picking up steam. You can take a look at some popular YouTube Live videos to get a sense of how other brands are using the platform.
34. Collaborate with other creators and brands
A tactic some of the biggest YouTube stars used to grow their following is collaborating with other users. Each collaboration gives you exposure to a new audience. And the best part is those new viewers are more likely to subscribe to your channel since you’re working with a content creator they already know, like and trust.
The key to a successful YouTube collaboration is finding the right partner. You want to collaborate with content creators that share similar passions with your brand so your video comes off as authentic. This now-classic collaboration between BuzzFeed and Purina is a prime example of a thoughtful collaboration that doesn’t feel overly promotional.
35. Run a paid YouTube ad campaign
With marketing in general becoming more pay-to-play, you always have the option to get more visibility through paid YouTube ads. YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to choose from:
Display ads: These ads show up on the right-hand sidebar of videos, and are only available on desktop.
Overlay ads: These are semi-transparent ads that are displayed on the bottom part of a video. They’re only available on desktop.
Skippable and non-skippable video ads: These ads show up before, during or after a video. Skippable ads can be skipped after five seconds, but non-skippable ads have to be watched all the way through before the viewer can watch their video.
Bumper ads: These are non-skippable ads that have to be watched before the viewer can watch their video. They can be a maximum of six seconds.
Sponsored cards: These are cards that get displayed within relevant videos. You can use them to promote your products or other content.
36. Regularly publish your YouTube content to social media
It’s no secret that video content crushes it on social media in terms of engagement and performance.
As a result, you should regularly promote your YouTube channel to your social followers to encourage them to become subscribers. As soon as a video goes live, make a point to let your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn know about it. You can likewise create snippets or previews for each social platform that also link to your latest production.